In 1969 the film 'The Italian Job' was released and almost immediately achieved cult status.
In the last 30 years it has become almost legendary, The Italian Job follows the fortunes of an ambitious gang of thieves led by the legendary Charlie Crocker (played by Michael Caine). Charlie has an idea for a heist while spending a few years at Her Majesties pleasure. The mission is to snatch millions of pounds worth of gold bullion from a bank in Turin, Italy using only some explosive and three 60's Minis painted in the colours of the Union Jack, red, white and blue.
The entry missions into the game are based around recruiting members of the gang and putting them through their paces driving through London at high speeds.
During these first stages the aim is to get used to driving some of the cars featured throughout the challenge. These include; 60's sports cars, limos, vans and a coach packed full of explosives.
One of the first things in this game that slightly disappointed me was that you don't get to drive the Mini's until near the end of the game. Obviously the first thing you want to do in an Italian Job game is drive around in a 60's Mini while whistling the theme tune (Self Preservation Society), although this is a great incentive to get to the more advanced levels.
Most of the missions require you to get to a location before the allotted time runs out, ditching the cops and the Mafia along the way. ~
One of the best examples of this is when you have to bust your mate out of prison; the police will set up road blocks all over the city in an attempt to stop your progress.
After leaving London your journey takes you to Turin, Italy. When you arrive in Turin you have to go for a tour round the city in a small beaten up van. All the classic sites are featured including the river which you will eventually have to drive through after the heist.
The game is incredibly loyal to the movie; this makes the playing experience rich in character, and ultimately the whole thing has an endearing kind of feel, just like any good old "Sunday afternoon movie".
This is helped nicely by the Michael Cain voice over which is provided by celebrity impersonator Phil Cornwell from the TV show Stella Street. A great voice over and a happy sound track, plus lovely graphics (If not slightly dated) compliments the nostalgia of the game no end.
The handling of the cars is a good balance between an arcade style and real life. The handling is pretty unique; it feels something like driving a mini on acid. Although if you had to pigeon hole the handling it would have to come under the heading of arcade.
The real tour de force of this game is the level where you take off with the gold bullion through the streets of Turin.
If you have seen the film, you will know what is in store, but if you haven't I won't spoil the surprise because it's worth waiting for.
Apart from the occasional "pop up" problem the only negatives about this game are that there are not enough levels, and the fun seems to be over a little too quickly.
Although, The Italian Job is a "great to play" gangster orientated driving melee with a unique quintessentially British theme.
All in all just like the movie, the game is a cheeky cockney classic!